The USMNT faced off against Mexico in the latest matchup of the Concacaf Clasico, as both teams looked to advance to the Concacaf Nations League Final for the second team in the tournament’s history. These two clubs last faced off in the Final in 2021, with the United States defeating Mexico by a score of 3-2 in extra time. Christian Pulisic scored a penalty in the 114th minute to give the USMNT the late lead, and they held onto the late lead to claim the first-ever Nations League trophy.
Now, the USMNT is looking to defend themselves as they look to repeat as Concacaf Nations League Champions. The winner of this match knew they would face off in the final against Canada, who won 2-0 against Panama, and it wouldn’t be Mexico.
The Staring XI
For his first Starting XI selection as interim manager of the USMNT, B.J. Callaghan selected a strong eleven to face off against Mexico in the semifinal matchup. Callaghan lined up the USMNT in a 4-2-3-1 formation with the following players: Turner, A. Robinson, Richards, M. Robinson, Dest, McKennie, Musah, Pulisic, Reyna, Weah, and Balogun.
While this lineup has a lot of the top talent that the USMNT has to offer, there was one individual that most USMNT supporters had their eyes on, and that individual went by the name of Folarin Balogun. The 21-year-old recently made the switch to the USMNT and will look to fill the striker void that the USA has had for a decent amount of time now.
United States dominance
In recent times, the United States has absolutely dominated Mexico in the matches that they have played, with not losing a competitive match to the side in over four years. Mexico used to rule Concacaf, but as of late, it has been all over the United States, and that did not change in the match tonight. The USMNT easily took care of business and defeated Mexico by a score of 3-0 to advance to their second consecutive Nations League Final. Christian Pulisic scored a brace, and Ricardo Pepi added a third late in the second half to finish off Mexico.
The United States really never seemed to be in trouble in this match, as they seemed to dominate in all aspects of the pitch. They created a total of five big chances compared to the zero that Mexico created, and that was where the match was won for the USMNT. B.J. Callaghan’s side seemed much better tactically and technically, and it was an all-around great win for the team. Hopefully, the team continues to play like this against Canada, especially with the absences of both Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest.
Second half scuffles
When watching the USMNT face off against Mexico, supporters of both sides tend to expect some tension, as these two nations are huge rivals with each other. These matches are always intense, sometimes leading to a brawl or two. In this match, there were two separate instances of a scuffle, with four red cards ending up being called in the process, two on both sides. The first incident occurred in the 69th minute when Folarin Balogun was chopped down with a wild challenge by Mexico defender Cesar Montes.
The referee gave Montes a straight red, but after that was when the action took place. Balogun’s teammates came to back him up after the vicious challenge, with midfielder Weston McKennie in the middle of the pack. There was some shoving and some pushing, which ended up leaving McKennie with a torn shirt and also leading to an iconic moment in USMNT being born. McKennie would walk off the pitch kissing the USMNT badge on his torn shirt, which is something that all the US supporters would love to see. McKennie would end up getting a red card for his actions in the match, leaving him unavailable for the final on Sunday.
The second altercation would occur later in the second half, and it involved Sergino Dest and Gerardo Arteaga. Tensions were already high on the pitch for multiple reasons, and things escalated out of nothing again, leading to some pushing and shoving once again. The referee would once again end up bringing out two red cards in the situation, sending off both Dest and Arteaga, as they were the main players involved. Dest’s red card means that the USMNT will be without himself and McKennie against Canada on Sunday.
As stated previously, Folarin Balogun recently made the switch to the USMNT, and B.J. Callaghan inserted him right into the Starting XI for the match against Mexico. While Balogun did not score and did not have the type of debut that people thought he would, he for sure did have a massive impact on the match for the USMNT. He showed why the US Soccer Federation wanted him so badly, and how he would be a massive player for the squad in the future.
To start off, his defensive work rate when pressing and winning the ball back is something that USMNT supporters will love to see. The striker also had fantastic holdup play, resulting in both Weah and Pulisic being able to develop the chances that they were able to create. Balogun is going to be so important for the USMNT in many ways, and tonight he showed a few of those in a crucial 3-0 over Mexico.
Man of the match performance by Pulisic
The man who goes by the name of Captain America once again showed why he was given that nickname in the first place. Pulisic always seems to come up big against Mexico, with his penalty kick goal back in the last Nations League Final coming to mind. But the 24-year-old Chelsea player one-upped himself in this semifinal match, scoring two to help lead the USMNT to a 3-0 victory.
Pulisic came into this match after barely playing at Chelsea all season, and he still showed why he is one of the best talents on this American squad. He always rises to the occasion when he needs to, and proves day in and day out that he is a key part of this American squad.
Up Next for the USMNT
With their win against Mexico, the USMNT will be facing off against Canada on Sunday at 8:30 PM EST to try and repeat as Concacaf Nations League Champions. Canada used goals by both Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies to get Panama by a score of 2-0 and advance to their first-ever Concacaf Nations League Final. The last few competitive matches that the United States and Canada have faced off against have been in World Cup Qualifying, and the USMNT has drawn and lost each of these matches.
The USMNT will look to improve on their play against their Northern neighbors, as they look to keep the trophy in the United States. Now, the United States will be without two key players for the Final, as both Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest received red cards for their actions in the scuffles that broke out in the match against Mexico. We will see how B.J. Callaghan lines up with these two players being out, but no matter what, it will be a big match for the USMNT. See you all on Sunday!
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